Before Thesis Submission

There are a number of requirements you need to fulfill before submitting your thesis for examination. These include thesis presentation requirements, supplying formal notification of your intention to submit, and ensuring that the inclusion of publications and early submission comply with University and Faculty/School requirements.

Below you will find information and tips to help you prepare for submission of your thesis.


Preparing Your Thesis

You need to ensure that your thesis confirms to the University rules governing thesis format, structure, length and binding as outlined in the Thesis Format Guide. You should also talk to your Supervisor or Postgraduate Coordinator about any style requirements that are specific to your discipline. In addition to these requirements, it is important to consider how presentation of your work affects the communication of your research and the coherence of your argument. You should ensure that your work is organised in a reader-friendly manner, including:

  • well-defined organising structure with logical sequencing and a clear link between the introduction, where you outline your intentions, and the conclusion, where your intentions should be realised

  • well written, interesting, and logically presented arguments

  • excellent overall presentation, with correct spelling and grammar


It is also a good idea to consider the criteria that your examiners will consider, including:

  • demonstration of authority in your disciplinary field, and command of knowledge in relevant fields

  • thorough grasp of appropriate methodological techniques and an awareness of their limitations

  • significant contribution to knowledge in your field, based on originality of approach and/or interpretation of findings

  • ability to communicate research findings effectively in an international context


Research Integrity

As a research intensive university, UNSW requires researchers to produce work that is robust and accurate, and conducted in accordance with the UNSW Research Code of Conduct. When reviewing your written work, your supervisor should use iThenticate, a software tool that assists with similarity checks and plagiarism detection. Designed specifically for research outputs, iThenticate can help you and your supervisor ensure that you are communicating the originality of your approach, and using referencing appropriately. 

For more information, visit Research Integrity and iThenticate.



There are a number of events that provide UNSW candidates with help for thesis writing:


Thesis Allowance

If you are receiving a RTP Scholarship, UAP, or UIPA, you may be eligible to apply for a contribution to the costs associated with the production of your thesis. For 2017, this contribution was $400.

For more information, please visit Additional Benefits and Allowances. To access the Thesis Allowance Claim Form, please visit Forms, Procedures and Policies


Editing and Referencing


You are expected to produce a well-structured and clearly argued thesis through your own efforts. Your supervisor will provide you with editorial advice relating to the structure, substance, and tone of your thesis, along with your use of illustrations and tables. They may also assist with copy-editing and proofreading. If you would like to engage the services of a professional editor, you should discuss this with your supervisor. If your supervisor gives their approval, you should read The Editing of Research Theses by Professional Editors Guidelines for guidance on what’s involved in having your thesis professionally edited. Please be aware that professional editors can only provide you with copy-editing and/or proofreading services.

A list of professional editors is available from The Learning Centre.



All Higher Degree Researchers are required to acknowledge the contributions and work of others. To ensure that you are using referencing appropriately, your supervisor should review your written work with you using iThenticate, a software tool that assists with similarity checks and plagiarism detection. 

Referencing styles vary significantly from discipline to discipline. If you are unsure of the preferred method of referencing for your thesis, you should speak to your supervisor and/or Postgraduate Coordinator. UNSW gives research candidates free access to EndNote – bibliographic software that allows the storage, organisation and management of references in a database. For more information, visit the UNSW Library



Inclusion of Publications

You should include in your thesis a list of any peer-reviewed publications that have resulted from your research for which you are either sole author or co-author. Generally, this list appears at the front of the thesis on a single page, or in a preface stating that sections of the work have been included in the following publications. You should talk to your supervisor or Postgraduate Coordinator about the relevant format for your discipline.

In exceptional circumstances, some Faculties may allow a candidate to submit their thesis as a series of publications. This must be discussed at the Annual Research Review of Progress, and the candidate, supervisor and your Postgraduate Coordinator are required to prepare appropriate documentation for consideration by the Faculty Higher Degree Committee (HDC).

For more information, please refer to the Thesis Submission as a Series of Publications information sheet.


Restricted Access

It is a principle of the University that a thesis produced under a research higher degree program should be publicly available. However, the University recognises that there are certain circumstances in which immediate public access to the thesis may not be desirable.

If your work requires strict confidentiality during the exam process due to Intellectual Property matters, you can apply for restricted access at least six months before submitting your thesis for examination. If your application is approved, the Graduate Research School will obtain your examiners' agreement to keep the contents of your thesis confidential. Upon award of the degree, you should still submit two electronic copies of the thesis to the UNSW Library. UNSW Library staff will be informed of approved restrictions, and they will be applied for the agreed period.

If your work does not require strict confidentiality, but you would like to request an embargo on public access for other reasons, the request process will depend on the period of time the embargo will take place. If you’d like to request an embargo of two years or less, you can indicate your wishes when you deposit the final digital copies of your thesis to the Library. If the embargo will be for more than two years, you need to complete a restricted access form before submitting your thesis for examination.


Applying for restricted access

Complete the Restricted Access of Thesis and Confidentiality Form, and attach the following supporting documents:

1. Written support of the candidate's primary supervisor

2. A strong justification indicating the reasons for a restriction of that length of time

3. Additional documentation which supports the justification for the extended restriction

You must discuss your plans to apply for restricted access with your supervisor, Postgraduate Coordinator, and any other relevant parties before submitting your application. Your application will be considered by the Dean of Graduate Research, and should be submitted at least six months before submitting your thesis.


Preparing for Submission

Notification of Intention to Submit

Two months before you submit your thesis, you need to lodge a Notification of Intention to Submit via the Thesis Examination Management (TEM) system on myUNSW. This is to ensure enough time for examiners to be contacted, determine their availability based on the projected submission date, and if they agree, nominated to examine your thesis.


Apply for early submission

It is expected that candidates will submit their thesis in no less than three years (full time) for a PhD or one and a half years (full time) for Masters program. However, in exceptional circumstances a candidate who demonstrates outstanding research skills may be ready to submit their thesis early. To apply for early submission, you need to submit a request to the Faculty Higher Degree Committee (HDC). Your request should include:

  • Supporting documentation from your supervisor and your Postgraduate Coordinator confirming that you will not be damaging your prospects by submitting early; and

  • Evidence of outstanding research including publication of a substantial body of work in leading international journals in your field; and

  • Exemplary Annual Research Progress Reviews that document a high level of achievement throughout your candidature.


Nomination of examiners

Once your Notification of Intention to Submit has been lodged, your Supervisor and your Postgraduate Coordinator will be asked to nominate two external examiners, plus one reserve external examiner. It is University policy that the names of appointed examiners are not released to any candidate until the examination process is complete. However, if you would like to specify any potential examiner who you would prefer not to examine your thesis, you are welcome to discuss your concerns with either your supervisor or Postgraduate Coordinator prior to the nomination process.


Submitting your thesis abstract

Before you submit your thesis, you need to record your abstract on the Thesis Examination Management (TEM) system at myUNSW. Your abstract should be no more than 350 words, and will appear on your Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement (AHEGS) at graduation. You can do this at any time after lodging your Notification of Intention to Submit, however a supervisor’s certificate cannot be created until your abstract has been submitted.


Supervisor’s certificate

Once you submit your thesis abstract, your primary supervisor will be asked to submit a Supervisor’s Certificate confirming that they have reviewed your thesis, and that it is ready for examination. If your supervisor does not support submission of your thesis and you decide to submit against their recommendation, your supervisor must notify both you and your Postgraduate Coordinator in writing of their concerns. The Faculty Higher Degree Committee (HDC) will consider submissions from both yourself and your supervisor to determine whether or not your thesis will be submitted for examination. If the HDC believes that your thesis is not ready for submission, they will determine what remedial action needs to be taken. Alternately, if the HDC determines that the thesis be examined against your supervisor’s recommendation, they will be responsible for nominating examiners.


What Happens Next?

If you are ready to submit your thesis, please visit Thesis Submission